November 21, 2011
The Treasury Department plans to designate Iran as an area of “primary money laundering concern” on Monday, a U.S. official said, a move allowing it to take steps to further isolate the Iranian financial sector.
The decision was reported earlier by ABC News and the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said the Treasury would not formally sanction Iran’s central bank, in part to avoid causing a sudden shock to oil prices.
Under Section 311 of the Patriot Act, such a designation allows the United States to take a range of “special measures” against a jurisdiction as a whole, an institution, a class of transactions or a type of account.
It was unclear what exact steps the Treasury planned for Iran but it seemed unlikely it would seek to cut off the Iranian financial sector entirely, a move that could disrupt the global energy markets and harm the U.S. economic recovery.